BAKER — The Baker School Board tabled two controversial items Tuesday during a special meeting called specifically to deal with one of the issues.
Board Vice President Elaine G. Davis objected last week to a recommendation by Superintendent Ulysses Joseph to hire two new Teach for America recruits for assignments at the academic magnet elementary school the board plans to open in August.
Davis contends the teachers are not certified and should not have been recommended over experienced, certified teachers.
The meeting started 15 minutes late because board President Dana Carpenter, Joseph, two attorneys and, for part of the time, Davis, met privately before Joseph later recommended pulling the teachers from the agenda “until further information is gotten.”
Joseph did not elaborate.
Answering a question from member Doris Alexander, the interim superintendent said the teachers are enrolled in an alternative certification program and are considered certified by the state Department of Education as long as they continue in the program.
An unsigned statement attached to the personnel recommendations submitted by the superintendent says the applicants with less than a year of teaching experience were chosen because they presented portfolios that show adherence to Louisiana’ comprehensive curriculum.
It also included charts showing the applicants’ understanding of data analysis and illustrated their knowledge of educational technology.
Board member Troy Watson said the two Teach for America students should be given an opportunity.
“They came with their ‘A’ game, and they made it,” she said.
Davis chastised the staff for recommending the new teachers for a magnet program.
“If you want them, put them somewhere else,” she said. “These are people who are saying ‘Give us a chance, but pay us while we learn.’ ”
Other topics on the agenda included:
TRACK PROJECT: Joseph said he had persuaded the owner of J.F. Juge Construction Co. to return to work on the stalled Baker High track project and presented a proposal to come up with the extra money needed to complete the job.
Davis, however, insisted on getting a legal opinion on the board’s obligations under the contract, which was let last year. Board attorney Winston DeCuir said he had to call in another attorney because he also represented Juge.
The opinion should be ready by the board’s July 11 meeting, DeCuir said.
The project ground to a halt last year when excavations turned up a water leak on the school grounds that could not be located until May. The board has spent $272,000 on the project since it began.
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: Over Watson’s objection, the board voted to allow Baker High Athletic Director Gary Mitchell to remain in the post provided he returns to the classroom as a teacher without any additional pay.
Businessman Napoleon Moses also objected to the action, saying Mitchell has been focused on changing the image of the school and goes beyond the call of duty at the school.
No one acknowledged recommending the change, but Carpenter said it was a personnel issue that had been discussed.